HIBBING — The game plan was simple — contain Dane Dzuck and MarNaries Ferguson.
That Duluth Denfeld duo had nearly 50 points against the Hibbing High School boys basketball team at the North Star State Hardwood Showcase in a 79-77 victory by the Bluejackets.
Hibbing coach Joel McDonald didn’t want that to happen again, so his team, which was short one starter, did that as Dzuck and Ferguson only got 27 points between them as the Bluejackets defeated the Hunters 72-61 Tuesday at the Lincoln Elementary School Gymnasium.
Both Dzuck and Ferguson didn’t get most of their points until the second half, when the game was all but decided.
“We did a good job with the game plan, with the limited time we had Monday to talk about it and work on it,” McDonald said. “We don’t have a guy that simulates Dzuck, but our guys did a great job putting it all together at game time.z’
That plan frustrated both Dzuck and Ferguson.
“They were our main concern,” McDonald dsid. “We took them out of the game for over a half. When we played with life and energy, we did a lot of nice things on both ends of the floor.
“In the second half, they adjusted. We played defense flat-footed for a while, and they took advantage of it. Both those guys put some points up, but I’m proud of how our guys executed what we were doing.
“The biggest credit that goes to these guys is what they did defensively.”
Offensively, Hibbing didn’t miss a beat without Ayden McDonald in the lineup.
The Bluejackets jumped out to a 20-point lead early in the first half, led by Dane Mammenga with 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
That run was led by freshman Carson Brown, who played in place of McDonald.
Brown dished off a number of assists to either Alex Chacich, Mammenga and Zach Rusich, and they reciprocated by hitting their shots.
“Carson had a great floor game, especially in the first half,” McDonald said. “He was in a nice rhythm. I wasn’t surprised by that. People see a little bit of Ayden in him with the things that he did with his vision and anticipation.
“We were going to need that. I’m happy with how we played for a good chunk of the game. It’s a reminder that we still have work to do, too.”
The Bluejackets took a 43-31 lead into halftime, but McDonald knew that Denfeld had come back from 20 points down to beat Red Lake in the Showcase.
The game was far from over.
“They’ve got guys that play with energy,” McDonald said. “Ferguson does, and their guards came in and knocked down some shots. We knew our game plan would lead to perimeter shots from time-to-time.”
The Hunters did make a run later in the second half, but it was too little, too late.
“Our issues defensively, when we had them, came later in the game,” McDonald said. “They came from slow rotations and giving up offensive rebounds. You give up offensive rebounds when you get a little bit tired.
“You’re not reacting as fast when you’re trying to out-jump a guy like Dzuck. We rebounded well through the first part of the game. When we started to let them score, there weren’t a ton of rebounds to be had.”
Hibbing had five players in double figures, led by Mammenga with 19. Chacich had 16, Brown 12 and Ruzich and Jensrud with 10 each.
“A lot of people were excited about how Dane shot the ball, and how we shot the ball,” McDonald said. “If we take care of the ball and play a little bit of defense, we’re going to be fine. For ⅔ of this game we took care of the ball, and we played good defense, which was our game plan.
“I’m not surprised because we have guys that can shoot it. We have guys that share, move the ball and find the open guy.”
Also hitting double figures for the Hunters were Gavin Bulthuis and Fonnley Powell with 10 each.
DD 21 40 — 61
HHS 43 29 — 72
Duluth Denfeld: Aidon Persson 6, Cameron Oliphant 4, Gavin Bulthuis 10, MarNaries Ferguson 15, Finnley Powell 10, Caleb Kilroy 2, Dane Dzuck 12, Aiden Newton 6.
Hibbing: Zach Rusich 10, Carson Brown 12, Finley Cary 5, Dane Mammenga 19, Alex Chacich 16, Jacob Jensrud 10.
Total Fouls: Duluth Denfeld 15; Hibbing 13; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Duluth Denfeld 7-10; Hibbing 12-19; 3-pointers: Ferguson 2, Newton 2, Rusich, Brown, Cary, Mammenga 3.
NASHWAUK — The Golden Eagles got 23 points, including four 3-pointers, from Alec Wake in the 20-point win over the Spartans on the road Tuesday.
Nolan Carlson hit for 16 for Northland, followed by Nathan Johnson with 15 and Aiden Carlson 11.
Gaige Waldvogel had 17 points to pace Nashwauk-Keewatin. Justice Rebrovich pitched in with 16.
NHS 34 39 — 73
NK 31 22 — 53
Northland: Brevin Jackson 2, Nolan Carlson 16, Aiden Carlson 11, Alec Wake 23, Liam Wake 4, Jace Jackson 2, Nathan Johnson 15.
Nashwauk-Keewatin: Gaige Waldvogel 17, Marcus Moore 9, Justice Rebrovich 16, Conner Perryman 2, Daylan White 2, Brody Erickson 7.
Total Fouls: Northland 9; Nashwauk-Keewatin 9; Fouled Out: Nolan Carlson; Free Throws: Northland 11-16; Nashwauk-Keewatin 10-13; 3-pointers: Nolan Carlson, Aiden Carlson, Alec Wake 4, Waldvogel, Moore, Rebrovich.
International Falls 0
INT’L. FALLS — Both Aune Boben and Megan Bussey had hat tricks as the Bluejackets beat the Broncos Tuesday at Bronco Arena.
Bussey scored five times, getting two in the second period and three-straight in the third period. Boben scored her goals in the first period.
Evelyn Brodeen scored twice for Hibbing/Chisholm, as did Abigail Sullivan. Claire Rewertz added one goal.
The Bluejackets fired 102 shots on International Falls goalies Pelland. She finished with 89 saves.
Addison Hess had two saves in half of a game. Brycelynn Heber finished with two saves in half of a game.
HC 4 5 4 — 13
IF 0 0 0 — 0
First Period — 1. HC, Aune Boben (Megan Bussey, Alizah Langner), 4:52; 2. HC, Boben (Bussey, Langner), 13:58; 3. HC, Abigail Sullivan (Brynn Babich, Heidi Rasch), 14:52; 4. HC, Boben (Bussey, Kendal Gustavsson), 1:53.
Second Period — 5. HC, Claire Rewertz (Sullivan, Annika Lundell), pp, 1:33; 6. H C, Evelyn Brodeen (Sullivan, Lundell), 5:14; 7. HC, Bussey (Madison St. George, Boben), 6:18; 8. HC, Bussey (Sullivan), 10:55; 9. HC, Sullivan (Lundell, Boben), 16:25.
Third Period — 10. HC, Brodeen (Gustavsson, Rewertz), 6:00; 11. HC, Bussey (Monroe Rewertz, Boben), 6:46; 12. HC, Bussey (Boben, Lundell), 7:30; 13. HC, Bussey (Lundell, Panella Rewertz), 12:10.
Goalie Saves — Hibbing/Chisholm, Addison Hess 2-0-x—2; Brycelynn Heber x-0-2—2; International Falls, Pelland 31-35-23—89.
Penalties — Hibbing/Chisholm 2-4; International Falls 2-4.
CHISHOLM — The Bluesteaks had four players in double figures en route to the 16-point win over the Tigers Tuesday on Bob McDonald Court.
Olivia Hutchings led the way with 18 points, followed by Hannah Kne with 17, Katie Peaerson 16 and Tresa Baumgard 15.
Cherry was led by Lauren Staples with 17 points. Rylee Mancina had 15 and Faith Zganjar 10.
CHE 23 29 — 52
CHI 36 32 — 68
Cherry: Mackenna Ridge 2, Lauren Staples 17, Anna Serna 6, Kaylynn Cappo 2, Faith Zganjar 10, Rylee Mancina 15.
Chisholm: Katie Pearson 16, Lola Huhta 6, Hannah Kne 17, Olivia Hutchings 18, Tresa Baumgard 15.
Total Fouls: Cherry 13; Chisholm 16; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Cherry 13-19; Chisholm 10-18; 3-pointers: Staples, Kne 2.